Roman Reigns knows what it feels like to be the polarizing top guy. The former multi-time WWE Champion was first pushed into WWE's main event scene in 2015 leading up to WrestleMania 31, but fans loudly rejected his Royal Rumble victory that year and program with Brock Lesnar over the WWE Championship in favor of other stars like Daniel Bryan. The fans' rejection of Reigns would linger in the years that followed, with the worst example being at WrestleMania 34 when the fans inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome loudly rejected the Reigns vs. Lesnar rematch main event. The crowd finally changed its tune after Reigns' leukemia diagnosis, and "The Big Dog" is usually universally cheered nowadays on SmackDown. But in his absence, WWE positioned another member of The Shield to be the company's "top guy" — Seth Rollins.
Fans were into seeing "The Beast Slayer" pushed as Raw's top singles star at first, particularly when he took down Lesnar in just three minutes at WrestleMania 35. But by the time he beat "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt at Hell in a Cell, that had drastically changed. Reigns talked about how Rollins has handled taking on the role in the latest After the Bell podcast.
"With Seth, he knows what to do. He knows what to do in the ring and how to carry himself. It's just a matter of riding it out," Reigns said (h/t Wrestling Inc. for transcript). "This is a situation where sometimes it's, 'What have you done for me lately?' You just have to go out the next night and kill it and continue to kill it. That's all that matters -- just bust your ass and work hard. The cream always rises to the top and that's something Cena told me a long time ago. Don't go out there and stink it up. Have a good match and at the end of the day our fans are passionate but they have respect for what we do...
"Seth is a pro wrestling guy and he's never going to go anywhere. He's always had the dream of WWE and a little bit of a roller coaster isn't gonna scare him away."
Rollins appeared on the same podcast two weeks back and called fans "fickle" for turning on him.
"You could go back, shoot, six months, you could go back a year. A year ago from Hell in a Cell... I was everybody’s favorite," Rollins said. "Those same people who are panning Hell in a Cell and talking about how Seth Rollins is not cool are the same people who were clamoring for me to be the guy to face Brock Lesnar going into WrestleMania, so I don’t know what changed... except for the fact that I became the person that they wanted me to be and then they hated me for it.
"And so, it’s a very fickle audience, it is what it is," he added. "But to answer your question directly, it feels awful. It’s not a good feeling to go out there and put your body on the line. And not just at Hell in a Cell, but every single night for the past however many years that I’ve been doing it. I’ve gone out and compete at an extremely high level and dare I say I’m one of the very best at my job. And I do what I have to do when I have to do it. And look, it’s not always pretty. But you go out there and you do your job and you do it well and people don’t like it and they kinda forget that it is what it is. And so it hurts your feelings. You’re a human being and you work hard. It’s fine, it’s art, you can have your opinion it, but man, it’s a tough pill to swallow some times.”